A gentle thought ~
Living books are life-giving books.
"The mind feeds on ideas."
- Charlotte Mason
This was my thought today when I began reading another wonderful book set during the turbulent years of the French Revolution ~ When a Cobbler Ruled a King, by Augusta Huiell Seaman, written in 1911. The vivid language, the exciting story are anything but dry and lifeless!
' "Hurry along, Yvonne! Why do you lag behind so!" "Oh, Jean! I am doing my best, but your legs are so long, and you take such great strides that I can scarcely keep up!" Two children, a well-grown, long-limbed boy of twelve, and a little girl of scarcely more than seven, were hurrying hand-in-hand along the Rue St. Honoré, on a brilliant May morning in the year 1792. Paris on that day resembled, more than anything else, a great bee-hive whose swarming population buzzed hither and thither under the influence of angry excitement and general unrest. The two youngsters were bubbling over with the same eager restlessness that agitated their elders. They pushed their way through throngs of men in red liberty-caps, soldiers in uniforms of the National Guard, and women in tri-coloured skirts and bodices. Poor little Yvonne, panting and tired, struggled to keep up with the striding gait of her larger companion. "If you don't hurry," said Jean, "we shall not see the little 'Wolf-Cub' out for his walk, and I want a look at him!" "Is he very dreadful to look at?" queried Yvonne, innocently. "I don't know,—I've never seen him," answered Jean, "but he must be pretty ugly if he's the son of a monster,—and that's what they call our Citizen King!" They turned into a narrow lane with but few houses on either side. At one end stood the church of St. Roch, and at the other lay the park of the Tuileries, in the centre of which rose the royal palace. "This is called the Rue du Dauphin because the little monster comes through it when he goes to church," remarked Jean. "Well, I think he can't be so very dreadful if he goes to church," protested Yvonne. "Oh, he only pretends to be good to deceive us!" answered Jean, carelessly. When they reached the park, they turned and ran along the edge till they came to the side flanked by the river Seine. Here they were stopped by a low wooden fence decorated with festoons of tri-coloured ribbons and bunting. In a small plot of ground behind this fence, a little boy could be seen digging up the ground about some flower-beds. He was a really beautiful child and his age evidently did not much exceed seven years. Great blue eyes looked out of a face whose expression was one of charming attractiveness. His silky golden-brown hair fell in curls about his shoulders, and he was dressed in the uniform of a tiny National Guard, with a small jewelled sword hanging at his side. About his feet a handsome, coal-black spaniel romped, shaking his long ears that almost trailed on the ground, barking and biting at the spade in his master's hand. Jean stopped and looked over the fence. His snapping black eyes grew soft at the sight of the group within. What boyish heart does not yearn toward a dog! "That's a fine little spaniel you have there, Citizen Boy!" he remarked. "What do you call him?" The child inside the fence looked up with a pleased smile. "His name is Moufflet. Isn't he a beauty? Don't you want to pet him?" The little boy lifted the wriggling animal to the fence while Jean put out his hand and stroked the long, curly ears. "Jean! Jean! lift me up! I want to see him too!" begged Yvonne who was so short that her head barely came to the top of the fence. Jean reached down, and with his strong arms swung her to a seat on his shoulder. "Oh, you beautiful thing!" she exclaimed. "And what a pretty little boy, too! I like you, boy!" The little fellow laughed with pleasure. "And I like you also!" he declared. "Don't you want some flowers? I gathered some for my mother this morning, but I think there are enough left to make you a nice bouquet." Dropping the dog, he ran hither and thither gathering from one bush and another, till he had collected quite a large mass of blossoms. These he handed to the little girl, saying: "And won't you tell me your name?" "I am Yvonne Marie Clouet," she answered, burying her face in the fragrant bunch, "and I thank you!" Jean, however, was growing restless. This was all very pleasant, but it was not that for which he had stolen a holiday from the services of the Citizeness Clouet, risking thereby the prospect of certain punishment, and had hurried through two miles of hot streets to see. He leaned across the fence toward the boy, and spoke in a half-whisper: "I say, Citizen Boy, do you happen to know whereabouts we can get a sight of the little 'Wolf-Cub'?" The child looked startled. "I don't know what you mean!" he replied. "Why, you must know!—the son of that monster, the Citizen King!" The little fellow drew back proudly. His blue eyes grew dark with anger, and he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword. "I am the Dauphin of France! And my father the King is not a monster! He is a good man!" Jean was so astonished that he let go his hold of Yvonne, who all but toppled from her perch on his shoulder. '